Water Quality Protection & Management


Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) - The SDWA is the primary federal law enacted enacted in 1974 to protect underground sources of drinking water from pollution, and to ensure the quality of public drinking water. The Act established a program for setting drinking water standards, a permit program for injection wells, and mandated a program of wellhead protection practices. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was responsible for implementation and enforcement of the SDWA.  In 1978, EPA granted primary enforcement authority to the State of Nevada.  Nevada's Safe Drinking Water Program currently resides in the State of Nevada, Nevada Division of Environmental Protection (NDEP) and is administered and enforced by the Bureau of Safe Drinking Water.  Visit the NDEP Bureau of Safe Drinking Water website at  https://ndep.nv.gov/water/drinking-water for more information, including: private wells, Public Water Systems Regulatory Oversight, Regulations & Proposed Amendments, Source Water Assessment, and Community Source Water Protection Plan for Public Water Systems in Nye County, NV .     

Clean Water Act (CWA) - The CWA is the primary legislative vehicle for federal water pollution control programs.  This act was established to "restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the nation's waters; protect fish and wildlife; and prohibit the discharge of toxic pollutants in quantities that could adversely affect the environment".  NDEP has been delegated the authority to implement programs of the CWA in Nevada.  Enforceable provisions include issuing National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits; technology-based effluent standards for point sources of pollution; and water quality standards.  NDEP also implements federally mandated programs for the management of non-point sources of pollution.  

The Nevada State Environmental Commission (SEC) has adopted regulations which define State programs to carry out the provisions of Nevada's Water Pollution Control Laws.  These laws, contained in Nevada Revised Statutes Chapter 445A (NRS 445A) establish the authority to implement portions of the SDWA and CWA and numerous state regulations that exist to protect, control, and restore the quality of Nevada's waters.  For example, NDEP issues Water Pollution Control Permits with zero-discharge performance standards for certain mining facilities, and State Ground Water Permits for infiltration basins, land application of treated effluent, large septic systems and industrial facilities (Nevada State Water Plan, 1999).  Visit the NDEP website at URL: http://ndep.nv.gov and learn more about the NDEP programs, including the Bureau of Water Pollution Control and the Bureau of Water Quality Planning authorities, permits and programs. 

The federal government has also established water security legislation and directives in recognition of the increased need to protect the nation's water supply and utilities from terrorist attacks. These include Homeland Security Presidential Directives (HSPDs) and the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act (Bioterrorism Act) of 2002.